With technology improving nearly every aspect of our lives, it’s not surprising that laundry centers (or, should you prefer the more glamorous term, Clothes Care Centers) have come a long way over the past few years.
Many real estate owners have already made the switch to “smart” laundry centers on their properties, understanding that technology can transform this important amenity into a viable asset that provides greater convenience and increased profitability.
The fact is, transitioning from “old school” laundry rooms to “smart” laundry centers is a win-win for both management companies and their residents. Thanks to cloud-enabled technology that allows machines and devices to communicate with each other, the old way of “doing the wash” in a commercial setting has forever changed.
Let’s think about it for a moment—originally machines in laundry centers were coin-operated. For those of you too young to remember this, you’d hunt down some change, praying that’d it be enough to run your clothes through the washer and dryer. (Lucky you if you could scrounge together enough coins to wash colors and darks separately) Once you set the money into the small grooved tray, you’d shove it into the mechanism and the machine would work its magic!
Eventually, management companies began offering tokens as an alternative to coins. Not only was converting coins into tokens at the leasing office a way to reduce vandalism in the laundry centers, management could also use the “currency” for leasing incentives and renewal gifts for their residents.
Later, prepaid laundry cards came into play and were issued to residents upon movie-in. About the size of a credit card, laundry cards were frequently lost or stolen. Another downside of the cards is that they consume wallet space (for those folks who actually still carry a wallet, that is!) Some laundry cards can be reloaded online but in many cases, a trip to the leasing office is still required.
Here’s where things get really exciting! And, yes, you can get excited about doing laundry! Residents who do their wash in a “smart” laundry center have the ability to download a special mobile app from the management company’s laundry service provider and pay digitally from their phones. The majority of these apps also enable the resident to receive a refund when applicable, or report any service issues. Some send alerts notifying the resident when the washer/dryer cycles are complete. This frees up your residents to do other things and eliminates unnecessary trips to the laundry center to check on the machines.
From a management perspective, the data captured from the laundry center can be beneficial in tracking usage and also allow for valuable insight into the overall operation of your laundry facilities.
Although it’s wonderful to see how technology is revolutionizing laundry centers, many laundry service companies have continued offering some machines that still accept coins and cards. In an effort to best serve their residents, management professionals understand that it may take more time to completely transform into a “cashless” operation.
At the end of the day, all of these advances are awesome, but today’s laundry service providers must always be focused on delivering reliable equipment, timely response for repairs and ongoing customer service. The human-touch coupled with technology is what will keep us moving forward.